Hate groups in America are on the rise, fueled by the election of President Obama, the poor economy and more recently, the gun control debate in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre, according to the annual report of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks American hate.
The center said the number of anti-government patriot groups rose 813 percent since 2008, the year before Obama took office, to 1,360 groups, far exceeding the previous peak in the 1990s — when they were fighting assault weapons legislation. The anti-government groups were up 7 percent from the 1,274 in 2011.
“The anger, angst, frustration, fear surrounding the economy have very much poured fuel on this fire,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC.
The rise in hate groups prompted the SPLC to write a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, warning of the potential for domestic terrorism and urging the creation of a task force to assess whether there are enough federal resources devoted to the threat.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen, a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
David Gletty, a former FBI informant who spent time undercover with various militia and extremist groups, told CNN that these groups are feeling especially threatened right now.
“They believe the Constitution is being raped. With hate groups, things are going to get worse because they feel like they’re in battle,” Gletty said. “It’s not surprising with their hatred of President (Barack) Obama that there are even more hate groups out there.”
Gletty said the groups tend to hate the government more than specific races.
“They are in a battle in their minds,” Gletty warned. “Their backs are against the wall.
According to the report, California has the most neo-Nazi groups with nine, while Texas has the most Ku Klux Klan groups with 26.
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The number of “immigrant-bashing” extremist groups— called nativism organizations— dropped 88 percent since 2011.
While the SPLC tracks hate groups, the National Rifle Association released its latest ad, aimed at African-Americans, featuring YouTube sensation and gun advocate Colion Noir, who is black.
“The only person responsible for your safety is you,” says Noir, who calls himself an urban gun enthusiast. “Cops can’t always be there. Obama definitely can’t be there.”
“No one wants to fight for their protection, they want the government to do it,” Noir says as the video opens with an obvious appeal to blacks. “The same government who at one point hosed us down with water, attacked us with dogs, and wouldn’t allow us to eat at their restaurants and told us we couldn’t own guns when bumbling fools with sheets on their heads were riding around burning crosses on our lawns and murdering us.”
“This isn’t a black or white, Democratic or Republican issue,” Noir continues. “This is common sense. This is self-preservation. It’s about natural rights.”
But the NRA attempting to appeal to blacks was not welcomed in some quarters.
“I think it’s an insult to the American people’s intelligence for them to continue to do this,” Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) said on MSNBC in response to the new NRA ad.
“We have to hear from more than just the gun lobby and Republicans and Democrats,” Rangel added. “We have to hear from the American people, and the silence is really what allows lobbyists to do what they have been doing over the years.”
In a statement to theGrio.com, Jess Levin, National Press Secretary for Media Matters for America, said, “Colion Noir’s video is yet another attempt by the NRA and their allies to connect the debate over gun safety to the Civil Rights Movement.”